"Do not wait for the right opportunity. Make one yourself." - Anuradha N S, Founder - TravelHighway
Growing up in Bangalore, India's silicon valley, Anuradha N S found herself inexplicably attached towards computers and anything related to it. Her parents and her elder brother always encouraged her decisions and imbibed in her the thought that good education gives a person abilities to take himself wherever he wants to go in life. So, it was only natural for her to take up Engineering in Computer Science. Incidentally, that’s where Anuradha met her husband and their journey began.
In January 2016, Anuradha and Harsha Kulkarni set up TravelHighway.com - a portal dedicated to traveling and adventure, where they help users discover amazing vacation places. They are in the process of expanding their reach.
Through an exclusive interview with us, Anuradha shared with us how it all started, where they are headed and a lot more! Read on!
Anuradha N S, Co-founder - TravelHighway
CE: Looking back, what do you think about the choice of leaving corporate tech world to enter the travel industry? What was going on your mind when you decided to take the leap?
Anuradha N S: It all boiled down to “Now or Never”. With our full-time jobs we weren’t getting time to work on our ideas or even discuss about it! An IT job is always a 24x7 one (unless you are lucky!), you are almost always working. Working late, working over the weekends, holidays & cancelling leaves are very common. This did not give us any hope that we could work on TravelHighway, something that we didn’t want to regret 10 years from now. So I decided to call it quits and started to work on it. Looking back, it was actually the only plausible choice we had.
CE: Tell us more about TravelHighway. Why was the need felt? How is it different from its competitors? How has it faired in the last few months of its operation?
Anuradha N S: It all started when many of our friends and colleagues wanted to know about any places near Bangalore time and again. Since we had explored many places near Bangalore, we used to help them identify places and plan their itinerary. It was difficult for people to discover great places because information about places on the internet is scattered and chaotic. Also, it is not available structurally at one place.
Moreover, travel websites these days are package centric. That is when we wanted to develop a portal which is place centric, where end to end information about places is easily accessible.
For instance, it is very easy to find information of places near Bangalore on TravelHighway.
The idea was simple, yet implementing it was difficult, we both being full-time Software Engineers. It took us almost 6 months to develop the portal (and add places) and another week to set-up a professional blog. We finally launched the portal and blog in the mid of January 2016. We are focusing on growing our database and network as of now. The blog is where we connect with our readers and share our personal travel experiences from exploring offbeat locations and itineraries. The responses in the social media have been good too with over 6 thousand likes on Facebook. We are active in other social media platforms as well, to reach out as many travelers as we can. In the last few months, we have reached #1 spot in Google for various keywords and aim to continue to expand our reach further for all the places.
CE: What is revenue model for TravelHighway?
Anuradha N S: Revenue for TravelHighway is primarily through Affiliate marketing. There are various plans in the near future to collaborate with travel brands to create great travel experiences.
CE: How has the experience of working with your husband Harsha Kulkarni been?
Anuradha N S: It might sound clichéd but working with Harsha has been a real learning experience. He is an epitome of patience. He does not give up on an idea easily. As much strong he is on the technical side, his creativity is no less as he is an excellent photographer as well. This always inspires me to hold onto both technical and creative aspects of myself! We do have clashes just like any other couple/team in the world but we somehow manage to find a way out. That is something that’s truly necessary for any team to move forward.
Harsha Kulkarni, Co-founder, TravelHighway
CE: What are your thoughts about startups pivoting or changing their course of direction along the way?
Anuradha N S: Instead of perceiving it as a change, one could perceive it as growth. Growing is a way of changing. Learning from mistakes and still not giving up is a big quality. So is taking risks. Be it individual, team or a company, I think it should be appreciated and supported. We have loads of examples, Twitter, Instagram, Nokia have all pivoted from their original path for the better.
CE: What do you enjoy the most about running TravelHighway? What is the most difficult part?
Anuradha N S: The best part is being able to work on our dream project. We are passionate travelers ourselves and to be able to work on something that is entirely based on travel, is a pure joy.
The most difficult part is making decisions. Decisions can make or break a company. Also, giving up the safety and luxury of a full-time job has been one of the toughest decisions but it has been working out so far.
CE: What are the team's efforts currently focused on? Where should we expect TravelHighway to be in next 2 years?
Anuradha N S: We are currently focusing on expanding our database and adding more features to the end user. We are also working extensively on the revenue model as we have been getting more requests for collaborations. In the next 2 years, you can expect TravelHighway to be loaded with many cool features through which the users can craft their own itinerary out of the huge database of places with minimal effort. It will also aid users to book the complete itinerary, making TravelHighway a one-stop destination for any travel enthusiast.
CE: Any message for your readers?
Anuradha N S: If you even remotely have a chance to take a risk to proceed towards your dreams, do it. Do not wait for the right opportunity, make one yourself. And the harder part? Sticking in the tough road till you reach the “Highway”.